The Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie, the top race of the Laurel Park winter meet, and the feature race on this Saturday's Winter Festival program, on Wednesday drew a field of eight, including five last-out stakes winners.
The seven-furlong Fritchie, a $300,000 race for fillies and mares, is one of six consecutive stakes that will be run at Laurel on Saturday. The stakes are slotted as the final six events on the 10-race card, and will make up the 20-cent Rainbow 6 and the pick five with a 12 percent takeout.
The other stakes are the Grade 3, $250,000 General George, a seven-furlong sprint for 4-year-olds and up, that drew a field of 10; the Miracle Wood and Wide Country for 3-year-olds; and the John B. Campbell for older males and Maryland Racing Media, for older females.
Takrees, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, comes into the Fritchie off a fast-closing victory in the six-furlong Interborough at Aqueduct. Wonder Gal, who races for Leah Gyarmati, will be shortening up off her Aqueduct victory in the mile-and-70-yard Ladies.
The field also includes two recent Laurel stakes winners. High Ridge Road, who is conditioned by Linda Rice, and Sweet on Smokey, who races for Laurel-based Claudio Gonzalez.
High Ridge Road outbattled Fritchie entrant By the Moon by a half-length in the one-mile Thirty Eight Go Go on Dec. 31. Sweet on Smokey is coming off a win in the six-furlong What a Summer.
Regia Marina, who is stabled at Tampa Bay Downs with trainer Eoin Harty, won the Mahoning Valley Distaff in Ohio in her most recent start in November.
The field also includes Clothes Fall Off, who like Takrees is trained by McLaughlin, and Rowd E Allie, who has won three straight races for Kelly Breen.
Irad Ortiz Jr. will be in from New York to ride Takrees. Rajiv Maragh will be aboard Clothes Fall Off.
The General George, the final race on the Saturday card, is topped by New York shippers Stallwalkin' Dude and Heaven's Runaway.
Stallwalkin' Dude, the expected favorite, has been in top form for trainer David Jacobson since last summer. In his last five starts, he has won the Grade 3 Bold Ruler at Belmont Park and the Gravesend at Aqueduct; finished second, beaten a length, in the Grade 1 Vosburgh; and been beaten a neck in a pair of Grade 3's, the Fall Highweight and Gravesend.
Ortiz has the mount.
Heaven's Runway, who began his career with five wins in 39 starts, is 2 for 3 since being claimed by Rudy Rodriguez. In his last two starts, he ran down Stallwalkin' Dude to win the Fall Highweight and then won the Dave's Friend at Laurel on Dec. 31.
Kendrick Carmouche will be in to ride.
Stallwalkin' Dude, Heaven's Runway, and local favorite Page McKenney will all carry 122 pounds, and concede four pounds to each of their seven rivals. Page McKenney, who returned from a nine-month injury-related layoff to win the Native Dancer Stakes at Laurel on Jan 21, is cross-entered in the $75,000 John B. Campbell Stakes at 1 1/8 miles Saturday. Trainer Mary Eppler has not yet determined in which race he will start.
McLaughlin has entered both Classy Class, who will be ridden by Maragh, and Ocean Knight, who has Feargal Lynch named to ride.
The field also includes the rapidly improving Imperial Hint, winner of the Fire Plug Stakes at Laurel last time out; Afleet Willy, who has won three races in a row; Voluntario, who also is trained by Rodriguez; Never Gone South, and Grasshoppin.